Sadr forces retreat from Karbala

NY Times:

American commanders said early Sunday that insurgents loyal to a rebel Shiite cleric appeared to have given up control of central Karbala, where they had been using two holy shrines as shields in their war against the occupation forces.

There were several strong signs that the armed supporters of Moktada al-Sadr, the rebel cleric, had abandoned the area and ceded authority back to the Americans and their allies after nearly three weeks of bloody urban combat, the commanders said.

A large overnight raid on a group of buildings from where insurgents had been firing rocket-propelled grenades at American tanks turned up nothing. Civilians were seen returning to homes in central Karbala that they had left in the last couple of weeks as the Americans and insurgents fought fierce battles in the area. And tribal sheiks approached American commanders on Saturday afternoon offering to persuade the militia, the Mahdi Army, to lay down its arms and leave the city.

"It looks like they just packed up and went home," Col. Peter Mansoor, commander of the First Brigade of the First Armored Division, said in an operations tent on the city outskirts as he received optimistic reports from field commanders during the raid. "I think his days are numbered."

...

If the insurgency in Karbala has dissipated significantly, then Mr. Sadr's six-week insurrection has suffered a major blow. Though the Americans had clamped down on the rebellion, Mr. Sadr had managed to maintain his grip on three towns: Karbala; the nearby holy city of Najaf, where he lives; and Kufa, a town adjacent to Najaf where Mr. Sadr preaches. He might now be restricted to Najaf and Kufa.


The media always overestimated this guy. He had a big mouth and an untrained undisiplined fighting force that was destroyed in every engagement with US forces. All he really accomplished is giving the media that hates Bush something to write about in hopes that they could get the American people to abandon a war they did not want in Iraq. These are the people who would rather see Bush lose than American win, and if that is not what they want how would their conduct be any different if it was.

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